There is a new thing in the art industry. I call it the “weird Science” of crafting. It is like paper crafting and chemistry (sublimation) got together and had a baby. It is a way to transfer an image to a multitude of substrates as long as there is at least a 50% poly coating for a distress type look and above 80% for a crisp transfer.

Matching pet and owner bandannas made through the sublimation technique.

What is Sublimation?

Basically it is taking an image on a special paper and applying heat as it is pressed against the substrate being transferred. The image is turned into a gas, transferred and then permanently embedded in the desired substrate. It will not wash or rub out. Up until recently this has only been done by chemists using big expensive equipment. That all changed when Artesprix stepped from the lab into the craft industry.

How to Transfer an Image Using Sublimation as a Crafter?

Here are the steps:

  • Stamp or draw your image on a piece of cheap copy paper with sublimation ink pad and/or markers.
  • Tape image face down on substrate with heat resistant tape.
  • Make a Sublimation sandwich by placing substrate with attached image between two protective sheets.
  • Place an iron set at highest heat on Sublimation sandwich for three minutes.
  • Remove iron and let cool for 5 – 10 minutes because it will be HOT.
  • Take substrate out of the middle of the Sublimation sandwich, remove tape and admire your project

Sublimation Tutorial to Create Matching Pet Bandannas

Things you will need for sublimation.

To complete this project you will need the following:

Stamp set of your choice (The one I used is out of stock, but here are some that are pretty cute here and here )

copy paper

Sublimation Ink Pad — Black

Sublimation Markers –Primary

Scissors

Bandannas

Heat Tape

Protective Paper

Iron

Protective Project Mat

  1. Stamp the image on a piece of copy paper with the Black Sublimation Ink Pad. Keep in mind that when the image is transferred it is going to be a mirror of it. That is important when trying to transfer words, letters or numbers because they will be backwards to what you stamped or wrote.

2) Color the images in with the sublimation markers. The colors will be darker and more vibrant after they are transferred through sublimation onto your substrate.

3) Trim your images out. They do not have to be neatly cut out. The edges of the paper are not going to be seen on your project after it is transferred. Do not take much time on this step.

4) Tape the images face down to the bandanna using heat tape. Make sure that you secure the images on all sides otherwise it could create a fuzzy looking transfer.

5) Create a “Sublimation Sandwich” by placing the substrate between two pieces of protective paper. The purpose of the protective paper is to trap the image from the copy paper and force it to transfer to the substrate. Sublimation includes turning the image into a gas for transfer. The protective paper helps trap that gas and keep it where it needs to go.

Some people use deli or wax paper for this step. This is strongly discouraged because those types of paper were not created to withstand heat. The chemicals that are released into the air from heating them up may not be safe. I don’t know about you, but I am not comfortable breathing in something that could cause harm to my family or myself. The protective paper I used in this step was created by chemist and is safe when heated.

6) Set your iron on the highest heat option. Make sure the steam function is off. I empty any water out of my iron just to be on the safe side. Your iron and work space need to be dry with no moisture.

7) Place the sublimation sandwich on the Protective mat. This is a silicon heat resistance surface that helps keep the substrate hot and the image transfer crisp. The protective mat protects your surface and insures that the gas stays trapped where it should.

8) Put the iron on the project, but do not iron it. You just want to use it as a press. Set it down and leave it for 3 minutes. Do not move it because it will result in a fuzzy image. If your iron has holes in it, place the image under the area of your iron that does not have the holes. If your image covers a larger surface than available without holes, simply reset your iron on it after three minutes and repeat the process.

Set the iron on the image. Do not iron it like you would to get wrinkles out.

9) Remove the iron from the sublimation sandwich and let it cool. It is extremely hot and needs several minutes to cool before touching it. Once the substrate is cool remove it from the protective sheets and take the copy paper off. Save the protective sheets for another project — it can be reused several times. Your project is now complete!

The Outtakes

I had the perfect selfie in mind when I created the matching bandannas for my dog and I. My dog had other ideas. Taking a picture with a pet is so much more challenging than taking one with a kid, don’t you think? Instead of a perfectly posed beauty shot featuring the awesome bandannas on my cute dog and I, here are a series of outtakes:

A Few More Resources

Here are a few helpful videos all about sublimation:

A Few More Examples of Sublimation Projects I have created

I have had so much fun with this sublimation technique that I have created several more projects with it. I plan on making custom Christmas gifts out of it as well.

Key chain I made with my signature watermark is perfect for the beach and summer book!
The book marker is not only my favorite one I have ever made, it also is the best one I have ever used!
I was inspired by a Design Team member of the Artesprix team to create this canvas bag.
I played with a stencil to create this bag. Notice the top of the letters are a little bit fuzzy? That’s because the image slipped during the transfer when I moved the iron. I did not tape it down adequately, but I still love it!

What kind of things could you create with sublimation? Tell me in the comments and please share with me whatever you create. I would love to see. Tag me on Instagram (Betz Golden).

Until next time ~ Happy Crafting!